Focus on Traumatic Brain Injury Research

Photo of brain MRI scan. Focus On Traumatic Brain Injury banner image. Credit: Shutterstock


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when external physical forces cause damage to the brain, whether from impact, penetrating objects, blast waves or rapid movement of the brain within the skull.  TBI severity has been classified as mild, moderate or severe based primarily on the Glasgow Coma Scale in combination with an assessment of periods of loss/alterations of consciousness and imaging scans of the brain.  The classification of mild TBI also includes concussion, commonly defined as a transient alteration of brain function after exposure to external physical forces. While short-term TBI can be life threatening in some cases, TBI also can have long-term sequelae including cognitive dysfunction, pain, sleep disorders and physical disability collectively known as the post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS results when various symptoms of TBI last weeks, months or more than a year following the TBI incident.  Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a delayed neurodegenerative disorder that was initially identified in the postmortem brains of subjects with a history of repetitive brain injuries. Diagnostic criteria for CTE and the associated Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome (TES) are being investigated further.

The TBI program at NINDS provides support and funds to extramural researchers studying basic, clinical and translational TBI research. NINDS-funded research includes studies to understand mechanisms of TBI and its sequelae, preclinical and clinical studies for diagnosis, prognosis, potential therapeutics, and other aspects of TBI.

Additional general information about TBI can be found at the NINDS TBI Hope Through Research website.

Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories

Research/Disease Areas* FY 2013
FY 2014
FY 2015
FY 2016
FY 2017
FY 2018
FY 2019
FY 2020
FY 2021 
FY 2022 
Injury - Traumatic Brain Injury $88 $87 $93 $105 $116 $133 $134 $179 $184 $192

*Dollars in millions and rounded

Related Federal Programs

Proceedings & Outcomes


Resources and Tools


Hibah O. Awwad, Ph.D. | TBI Program Director, Basic & Translational TBI research

Nsini Umoh, Ph.D. | TBI Program Director, Clinical & Translational TBI research

Adele Doperalski, Ph.D. | Health Program Specialist

Funding Opportunities 

Traumatic Brain Injury Related Funding Opportunities

To receive regular updates on funding announcements and other opportunities, please join the NINDS TBI Research Listserv.

News & Events

The Second NINDS/NIBIB Consensus Meeting to Define Neuropathological Criteria for the Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Consensus Diagnostic Criteria for Traumatic Encephalopathy Syndrome

NIH-funded workshop: “Identifying strategies to advance research on traumatic brain injury’s effect on women”

NIH scientists watch the brain’s lining heal after a head injury

Study reveals gaps in follow-up care after concussion

Study finds worsening outcomes in service members five years after mild blast-induced concussion


Related Topics 

NIH Common Data Element (CDE) Resource Portal

NINDS strongly encourages researchers who receive funding from the Institute to use these common data elements (CDEs) in their clinical research.

National Research Action Plan

Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR)
The FITBIR Informatics System is a database developed by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health to share data, associated tools and methodologies. NINDS has specific FITBIR requirements for larger Clinical Research studies.

FITBIR Data Sharing Policy

International Initiative for Traumatic Brain Injury Research (InTBIR)

InTBIR is a cooperative international effort to coordinate clinical research activities, increase data sharing, and leverage global research opportunities.